Thursday, November 18, 2010

Light Wands

Sometimes it's fun to experiment with simple light sources. Back in the late 1980's commercial photographer, Aaron Jones popularized a painting with light technique with his Hose Master light wands.
Just for fun I made a trio of my own simple light wands with L.E.D. flashlights. To make the light beams narrower and easier to control I equipped the flashlights with a homemade cardboard telescopic snoot and another with a snoot with a spot grid. The L.E.D. lights are a little bit cooler in color temperature so I put a warming gel ( CTO 3410 ) over them.
I could then try painting with light.

To paint with light, the image should be shot in a very dark room. Place the camera on a tripod. Experiment with aperture and long shutter speed, 10-30 seconds, depending on your light source. I move the flash light in sweeping strokes during the exposure to prevent hot spots. Avoid pointing the flashlight directly to the camera's lens unless you want a light streak effect. Lock your camera's mirror if you have one to prevent camera shake during the long exposure.

Here are some of the results.

Painting with light using a L.E.D. flashlight with spot grid. Exposure f/22 at 15 seconds.

Exposure, f/11 at 15 seconds. Background lit with a Nikon SB-28 with red gel at 1/32 power setting

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Petrified Diner

Another favorite shot I did using small flash units for the Strobist excercise is this image of a bended fork.
I wanted to show some mystery and drama with this simple prop so I twisted and bent the fork to make it look expressive.

The lighting consisted of three small flash units trigger by radio transmitters :
Canon 430EX with a DIY striplight and gobos at 1/4 power setting on the left of the camera. The fork was suspended about a foot from the background. The background was lit with a SB-28 with spot grid at 1/16 power opposite the camera. A SB-24 with spot grid at 1/8 power was supposed to be an accent light opposite the camera but it didn't fire in this shot. I liked the effect better than when it did.

This shot was later included in the Strobist Trade-Secrets Lighting Cards.

Another out-take from the exercise using only one flash unit.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Water Bottle"

One of the most viewed images I have on Flicker is this shot of a "Water Bottle" which I did for "The Strobist Bootcamp" four years ago.
I shoot toy products
everyday for a living but most of my daily assignments involve simple lighting set ups. The lighting of this self assignment was interesting so I thought I'll re-post it here.

Instead of taking another shot of a bottle of water like everyone else I thought I borrow an idea from one of my brothers in the Philippines who shot an Absolut Vodka Ad about ten years ago. The idea is to actually create a “bottle” out of water.

Below is the lighting and shooting the set up.

I used one light source. I set up a 4’ X 6’ Lightform diffusion panel opposite the camera and behind it was a single Canon 430EX speedlite with gobos on a stand about five and half feet high, angled down towards the set.

The "water" is actually clear mineral oil that is sometimes used in “ wet” shots. Mineral oil is a little bit thicker than water.

The ice cubes are made of acrylic, available at the Set Shop in New York City. I bought these a few years ago for another liquid shot. The Set Shop sells different models of “ice”.
The Aquafina label is glossy and for my light set up it would produce so much glare, making it unreadable. I scanned, re-sized and printed the label and pasted it on a piece of cardboard so that it would stay above the surface of the liquid and not get messed up. I made a few of them. I planned to shoot the props on a piece of black plexi-glass to produce the effect I wanted but since I didn’t have time to get one I used a cut up piece of black plastic folder.

The black plastic folder background is only about 9” X 12” so I had to keep my composition real tight. I arranged the glass, ice cubes, and label and composed the image in my viewfinder. I did a few test shots to make sure I got the exposure right and made sure the light falls on the set the way I wanted to. Once satisfied with the lighting and exposure, I proceeded with the hardest part of the endeavor, “drawing” the liquid bottle with a medicine dropper. The mineral oil runs and expands quickly, loosing it shape so I had to shoot quickly. I had to repeat the process several times before I got a relatively good-looking bottle shape. The tight space of the set dictated the size and shape of the bottle.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sheep and Wool Festival

Prized Breed

Wool Weavers

Spinning Wheel


Lamb on a Spit

Some photos from the Duchess County Sheep and Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY.
Camera: Leica M2 with Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM lens.

Film: Kodak 200 and Fujifilm 200